- Jenny and Joe Mackey
Planning your family photos in The Grand Tetons
Seriously, can you think of our more beautiful setting for your family photos!? While our primary focuses are weddings and elopements, we actually shoot more family sessions than anything else throughout the year! With this we are blessed to take those families to some pretty amazing places. In this blog, we wanted to go over the most popular locations we shoot at for family sessions, and what to know as you plan your family photo session in the Grand Tetons & Jackson Hole area.
T.A. Moulton Barn
It would be almost impossible to travel to the Jackson Hole area and not hear about The T.A. Moulton Barn! This iconic barn is almost synonymous with Jackson and The Grand Teton National Park. It is a popular destination to check out for tourists, and landscape photographers alike, and it is definitely one of the more popular spots we get for family session requests. For obvious reasons, it is one of our favorite spots as well! It makes for the perfect rustic backdrop for your family session and as an added bonus, it sits right in front of the beautiful Grand Teton range. It’s almost too good to be true. With that, every spot we recommend comes with a few things you should know before heading there for your family session and here are some good things to know for this popular spot.
This is by far one of the most popular tourist spots in the area. As noted above, families, photographers, and those just passing through come by just to see the Moulton barn. It has the distinction of being the most photographed barn in America. Though we’ve been by here on occasion where you get lucky and have this spot almost all to yourself, its more than likely that this location will be crowded. Be patient, be kind, and be respectful. It’s a shared space, and should be treated as such. This may mean, you can only shoot in front of it for a few minutes as there may be others in the area trying to get a shot of the barn, as well. If you’re trying to get it just right for your family session, you’re generally going to have the most luck around sunset. Sunrise and afternoon tend to be the busiest times to visit in our experience.
If it’s super crowded and you don’t even want to bother, consider going down to the other side of the Mormon Row area and there is another beautiful barn down the gravel road. A bonus for this area are the beautiful fields beside the barn with the Teton Range in the background. All this combined make for one heck of a location for family photos!
It would be hard to say if this spot is more popular or the T.A. Moulton Barn is more popular, but one thing is for sure, if you google The Grand Teton National Park, there’s a good chance the images you see will be from Schwabacher Landing. In fact, most of the post cards, prints for sale, and other memorabilia you can find highlight this beautiful location with the Snake River flowing towards The Tetons! If you’ve been here before, then you already know why, and if your visit is scheduled, you’re in for a real treat! You’re hard pressed to find a more all encompassing scenic location in The Grand Teton National Park! You could make the argument that maybe the water view at Lake Taggart is better, or the mountains look better from Snake River pull out, r the fall color comes in better down by Oxbow Bend, but Schwabacher Landing has a little bit of everything, it’s not far from town, and it’s easy access during the non-winter months.
Similar to the T.A. Moulton Barn mentioned previously, this is one of the most popular spots in the park. You can get out and take beautiful landscape shots, go on a little hike, see a moose, and on a good day, you can do all of these in one stop. Needless to say, it can also get a little crowded at times. Usually sunrise and again, afternoon are the busiest times in our experience.
If you’re looking for a location that has it all from open fields, mountain views, fall color during the fall season, and water, then look no further than Schwabacher’s Landing for your family session.
Glacier View Turnout
Last, but certainly not least, if you’re considering locations for your family photos while visiting Jackson Hole, definitely check out Glacier View Turnout! We love this location for larger families, and for families who may have members with mobility issues. Simply park your car at the pull out and you have a short paved walk to overlook. It’s flat, wide open, and may be the best straight on view of the Grand Tetons in the area. It’s also a great spot for winter sessions due to the proximity from town, and the ease to get to the overlook from the parking lot. While not quite as much variety as the other two spots on our list, if you envision the mountains being prominent in your portrait, and this is something you’re wanting to order a large print of for your home, this spot may be the best for that ‘one shot.’ (It's also accessible during the winter!)
Bonus tips for planning your family session in The Grand Tetons:
-If you have time in your session, pick two or three spots. A lot of beautiful locations in the area are easy access, so take advantage of the close proximity and variety for your photos.
-Always try to schedule your session around sunrise or sunset for the best lighting for your session. Your photographer can help guide you on this.
-If you’re just doing your own thing, and you want to set up a tripod for your family photos, remember, when the sun goes behind the mountains, you still have around a half hour of perfect light before it gets too dark. This is your best time to shoot in the Tetons generally. So, if you’re photographer schedules your session and it seems late, don’t fret, they know what they are doing :)
-If you have found another location you’re thinking about for family photos, just make sure you research it beforehand. Many of the beautiful spots in the area require a long, and in some cases an all day hike to access. Not ideal for family sessions. Your photographer can usually provide some helpful feedback to find a spot that’s just right.
-The temperature swings can be great from morning to afternoon and then again from afternoon to the evening, so plan your outfits accordingly and bring a jacket or coat if needed. If you have little ones, consider a mini session vs a full hour session, usually their tolerance for cold is a lot less.
-Lastly be flexible. The weather out here can be crazy sometimes. One day it’s warm and feels like summer, and the next day a snow storm hits out of nowhere. One day the Tetons are popping like something out of story book and the next day they are covered up by clouds. Be prepared for anything including a change of locations, and possibly a change of day or timing if needed. You can still get plenty of gorgeous photos in the area, even if you don’t have the Teton range as your backdrop.